Why Is Air Travel So Often Complicated


Last month, I had 2 quick trips planned. A big part of the reason why they were so quick is obviously because I have a 2 month old baby at home. Where was I headed? A first trip to New York, to see some action at the US Open (tennis). I was going to be in New York for about 36 hours, just enough time to see almost 2 complete days of tennis. It might seem a bit much for 2 days of tennis but if you only knew how much I love tennis, and how I’ve been to the Open every year since I was 15 or so, you’d understand why. Going for such a short period of time wasn’t ideal but given the choice between that and not going, it was a no-brainer.



My Plane Tickets

The best part about this trip was that I was getting my tickets for free thanks to my hard earned miles with American Airlines. I took the first flight out on Saturday (6AM) and the last flight out the next from LGA (7:30PM). That morning, after a very short night, I made my way to the airport where I checked-in. I have to say, I was half asleep still (it was 4:30AM or so) and I barely noticed until getting to the final screen that my flight was now scheduled at 12PM..!?!??!?!? WHAT!? In a 36 hour trip, losing 5 hours to a flight change is a big deal. I went up to the lady who told me that the flight I had booked no longer existed so they had changed my flight… I’m sorry but WTF. I explained the situation to her and she put me on a flight to JFK which wasn’t ideal but was still much better than the 12pm flight… She also told me that I should have checked if my flight had been changed. That is probably true. But what is also true is that airlines should not change my tickets without contacting me to see if that creates any issues. It could be a phone call or even an email.

As I was leaving the desk, I thought about asking about my return flight. Turns out that it had also been changed, to 4 hours earlier!!! Insane. So I got that one changed as well… That next day, when I got to the airport to check in for my return flight, I got an error message from the machine, had to wait over 30 minutes in line in order to finally be able to check in. It’s a good thing that the actual time in New York was a blast because the traveling part wasn’t very enjoyable.

Weekend #2 – Denver, Colorado

The following weekend, I was off to Denver, Colorado for a conference and also to watch a NFL football game. I was leaving one day after it all started, to help out my wife, knowing that I’d be in very early on the Friday. So again, I headed off to the airport, with a friend of mine and we checked in. This time I was thrilled to see that my flight had not been changed and I was using Delta Airlines. So after a delay at security, we were able to board the plane. Believe it or not, we were headed to LGA (New York) again, and then had a connecting flight to Denver. This time I was confident though. So we got installed, started discussing business and after a few minutes started wondering why the plane had not moved.

We were notified that we were waiting on maintenance, which should arrive shortly, making it plenty of time ahead of our 1 hour connection. Time went by slowly.. And after about a half hour, some passengers started to get impatient. Then we found out what the issue was. We were waiting to get fuel for the airplane. Are you kidding me?!? Had no one thought about taking care of this a while ago? And are airports not equipped to do refuels within a few minutes? It ended up taking about one hour… As you can imagine, by the time we landed in New York, our connecting flight had already left and with no other flights headed for Denver anytime soon, they offered to rebook us through Atlanta…

Thankfully, that part ended up going ok and while we did arrive much later than expected, at least we got there.

Why Not Make My Life Easier?

Traveling should be an enjoyable experience. I do understand that some things go wrong at times but in both of these cases, it just seems to me like they would have been easy to prevent. Not only did it throw me off, but it made life much more complicated (I had meetings to reschedule/cancel, etc) which is something I always try to avoid in my life in general. I can’t say I’m surprised when I hear that these companies keep losing money over and over…

I’ve had many other travel stories which I may get to at some point bot those two trips were so short and so close to each other that it really got to me. How about you? Have you had any bad experiences with airlines?



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